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Isles of Scilly
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Isles of Scilly

Isles of Scilly
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St. Mary's
Star Castle
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Star Castle

OS grid reference :- SV 899 106

Star Castle on the island of St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly, was constructed in 1593 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

The castle is built in the form of an eight-pointed star and stands at the centre of a fortification system around the west side of St Mary's known as the Garrison. It comprises an outer wall around the outcrop of Hew Hill, protecting the town and the castle, with strategically placed gun batteries at regular intervals around the outer wall, allowing covering fire at all angles.

Star Castle was constructed by mapmaker and Surveyor of the Royal Works, Robert Adams, under the direction of Sir Francis Godolphin, Captain of the Scilly Isles, following the Spanish Armada of 1588. Sir Francis had started work on fortifying the high ground overlooking Hugh Town in 1573. This enclosure was originally known as the 'Hugh' but later renamed The Garrison. Fearing another Catholic Spanish invasion, in May 1593 Elizabeth I ordered the construction of a fort and two sconces as a lookout for any intruder ships.

During the Civil War the Scilly Islands were staunchly Royalist. In 1646, as Parliamentary forces took Royalist strongholds on the mainland, Prince Charles (later King Charles II) stayed briefly at the castle after he fled from Pendennis Castle. The Royalist Sir John Grenville used the harbour at Hugh Town as a base from which to launch repeated attacks on Parliamentary shipping. This was brought to an end in 1646 when the Parliamentarian Admiral Blake launched an attack on the Island and stormed Star Castle. The castle was then used as a prison for prominent Royalist prisoners including James Hamilton, Marquis of Hamilton.

In 1740 Master Gunner Abraham Tovey transformed the Garrison building walls with gun batteries, including Colonel Boscawen's Battery,in a circular shape following the coast line of The Hoe.

Star Castle is now used as a hotel.


Historic Buildings